This recent authority from the Court of Appeal Civil Division may well provide the basis for hitherto unsuccessful attempts to allow companies to be permitted to pay for representation of individual defendants who are also officers of the company where the company has had its assets frozen.
The case itself did not have a background of an existing freezing order but those powers were explored in the judgment. The Court held that the payment of legal expenses incurred by a Company Director resisting extradition proceedings did fall within the parameters of disposing of funds in the ordinary and proper course of its business. The fact that the Defendant may have had personal assets from which he could have met those fees was held to be a factor that carried very little weight when considering whether the payments fell within the existing remit of the order. A distinction was to be drawn with cases where a party was actually seeking a variation to an order to release funds.
The Court also held that civil litigation funding also fell within the remit of the order even where on one view the benefit to the Company was indirect in its nature.
The case will provide potential assistance for those faced with freezing orders over business assets and despite the legislative steer of s69 PCA 2002; the author suggests that there may well be some cases where this case could be deployed to secure the release of legal fees to fund criminal defence work. What I like most about it is the very useful list of propositions for a Court to consider when deciding such cases [found at paragraph 27 if you are in a hurry!].
33 Chancery Lane